By Catherine Tsounis
Spring and summer are the best time to explore Arcadia, Greece. The best displays of wildflowers in the world are in the Peloponnese. Mrs. Angeliki Vournas, educator and international artist, held an Art Exhibition of “The Flowers of Parnona and Mainalo, Arcadia, Greece” . It was held recently at the 74th Anniversary of the Pan Arcadian Federation of America at the Laguardia Marriott Hotel in East Elmhurst, NY.
\Her theme was the flowers of Parnona and Mainalos mountain ranges. “My purpose is to inspire a remembrance of the natural beauty of the Arcadia of our youth,” she said. “Every flower is unique. Each flower has its own story. Many are used for therapeutic purposes.” Her vivid colors make her paintings unforgettable.
“Arcadia has its present-day capital at Tripoli. It covers about 18% of the Peloponnese peninsula, making it the largest regional unit on the peninsula. Arcadia has a ski resort on Mount Mainalo, located about 20 km NW of Tripoli. Other mountains of Arcadia are the Parnon in the southeast and the Lykaion in the west.”1
“The pastoral character of Arcadian life together with its isolation are reflected in the fact that it is represented as a paradise in Greek and Roman bucolic poetry and in the literature of the Renaissance.”2 Flowers growing throughout Arcadia are the following: Hydrangea – Ορτανσία; Poppy – Παπαρούνα; Geranium – Γεράνι; Hyviscus – Υβίσκος; Petunia hybrica – Πετούνια and Hyacinth – Υάκινθος.
“Mount Parnon rises in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese. It is the largest mountain range in the region. At mount Parnon grow forests of many species such as pines, firs and oaks. On the banks of the rivers grow willows, sycamores and other riparian plants. At lower altitudes are spread olive trees. The cedar forest of mount Parnon is the unique forest in Europe and it is protected by the program NATURA 2000. Finally, the region is rich in rare medicinal herbs and wildflowers which are under protection.”3
The flowers of Mount Parnon include: Lillium Chalceonium Κοκκινος Κρινος; Cyclamen-Κυκλαμινο;Iris – Ιρις; Crocus Melantherus – Κροκος ο Μελανθήρος; Orchis Mascula – ‘Ορχις η Αρρενωπή; Veronica Chamaedrys – Βερόνικα η Χαμαιδρύς and Linum Aroanium – Λίνον.
“Mainalo is the tallest mountain in the Menalon mountain range of the Peloponnese, and is found in Arcadia, Greece. In antiquity, the mountain was especially sacred to Pan.[The mountain houses many forests of Greek fir and Crimean pine. Natura 2000 cites these forests as the “[Greek fir and Crimean pine’s] best representation in the Peloponnese.
The mountain houses many forests of Greek fir and Crimean pine. Natura 2000 cites these forests as the “[Greek fir and Crimean pine’s] best representation in Peloponnisos.”4
“Different elevations offer different natural wonders: serene, bare mountain tops contrast with thick fir forests, cedar woods, oaks and strawberry trees, all mixed with springs, caves, rivers and gorges. There are 570 species of flora, many which are unique to the region or country.”5 The Flowers from Mainalo are Alcea Biennis – Μολόχα and Primula Vulgaris – Πριμούλα.
“The majority of the tourists who visit Greece is drawn there by the crystalline waters of the seas and the splendid vestiges of its ancient culture, and probably know little about the variety and the abundance of the flora of this country, which counts an astonishing number of species—more than 6,000—plus subspecies and varieties,” according to http://www.abettergreece.com/
Gr_flora.html. “In proportion to its size, Greece has more species of flowers than does any other European country or the United States.
The plenteousness of Hellenic flora is the result of several factors, first among which the geographical position of the country. Together with Greece’s climatic conditions, it permitted the land to receive contributions from other nearby floras, above all those of central Europe and Anatolia.” These factors describe the extraordinary sights tourists witness in Spring Peloponnese.”6 Mrs. Angeliki exceptional paintings gives a person a feeling of the spiritual renewal of Arcadia, immortalized in literature.